Tufts Environmental History

Tufts University has a long and rich environmental history. Here is a timeline that provides an overview of our sustainability milestones for the last half century.

1962 Sanitary Engineering degree is first offered in the Department of Civil Engineering.

1973 The M.A. degree is first offered through the new Department of Urban, Social and Environmental Policy, founded by Professor Hermann Field.

1984 The Lincoln Filene Center begins the New England Environmental Network and launches the first of 18 annual New England Environmental Conferences.

1984 The Center for Environmental Management (CEM) is established with EPA funding and begins interdisciplinary training and outreach, eventually training more than 7000 workers and certifying inspectors in asbestos and lead-based paint abatement.

1984 The undergraduate Environmental Studies Program begins as an optional second major, open to students majoring in any field in Arts & Sciences or Engineering. Later, tracks are established in Environment & Society, Environment & Technology, and Environmental Science.

1986 CEM receives a 5-year grant from EPA and supports more than 65 faculty members to conduct research projects, in addition to training, outreach, corporate involvement, and campus greening.

1990 Tufts receives EPA funding to initiate Tufts CLEAN! (Cooperation, Learning and Environmental Awareness Now!) to reduce or eliminate harmful environmental impacts of the university’s own operations.

Tufts CLEAN! becomes a model for many other universities, with its achievements and challenges documented in Greening the Ivory Tower (1998, MIT Press) by Sarah Hammond Creighton, the former director of the Tufts Office of Sustainability.

President Jean Mayer speaking at commencement, 1987
President Jean Mayer

1990  Jean Mayer, Tufts President, convenes 22 university presidents and chancellors in Talloires, France, to discuss environmental sustainability. They sign the Talloires Declaration, a 10-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy into campus teaching, research, operations, and outreach. The Declaration has since been signed by over 440 university presidents and chancellors from 50 countries.  

1990  Tufts Environmental Policy is created

1990s Several unique interdisciplinary degree programs are started at Tufts, including the Agriculture, Food and Environment concentration (M.S./Ph.D.) in the School of Nutrition Science and Policy; the International Environment & Resource Policy program in the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (M.A.L.D./Ph.D.); and specializations in International Veterinary Medicine, Wildlife Medicine, and Animals and Public Policy (M.S./D.V.M.) at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

1991 Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) receives the Presidential Environment and Conservation Challenge Award from the Council on Environmental Quality.

1992 The University Presidents’ Secretariat for Environmental Education and Research is launched to continue the efforts begun at the Talloires Conference. The Secretariat is now the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF) within the Center for Respect of Life and the Environment in Washington, DC.

1993  GDAE (Global Development and Environment Institute) is founded under the direction of Neva Goodwin and Professor William Moomaw to promote a better understanding of how societies can pursue their economic and community goals in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.

1997  The Tufts Center for Conservation Medicine (TuftsCCM) pioneers the concept of conservation medicine as a new approach focusing on the health relationships at the interface of humans, animals and the environment.

William Moomaw, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Professor of International Environmental Policy
William Moomaw, Fletcher School Professor of International Environmental Policy

1998 Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) is established under the direction of Professor William Moomaw to coordinate and catalyze environmental research, learning, outreach and service across all Schools of Tufts University.

1999  Tufts pledges to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, setting the goal of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from Tufts campuses to 7% below 1990 levels by the year 2012.  The Tufts Climate Initiative is created.

2000 John DiBiaggio, Tufts President, and Grace Perez, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association, join organizational forces in the Mystic Watershed Collaborative to improve water quality, habitat, public access and watershed awareness in the watershed where the main Tufts campus is located.

2001 The Energy Affairs Council is established to address energy costs, reliability, and environmental impacts.

2001 The Greening Grafton Campus Committee is established.

2001 The first Eco-Reps program for residential students begins.

2003 Tufts joins the Chicago Climate Exchange.  President Lawrence Bacow adopts the goals of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (10% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 with a 75-85% reduction long term).

2004 The interdisciplinary Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) graduate program begins.

2005 The United States Environmental Protection Agency awarded the prestigious Climate Protection Award to Tufts for its efforts

he Environmental Protection Agency presents an award to Tufts for the Tufts Climate Initiative.
The Environmental Protection Agency presents an award to Tufts for the Tufts Climate Initiative in 2005. (Photo from Tufts digital archives) 

2006  Construction finishes on Sophia Gordon Hall, Tufts’ first LEED-certified building. 

2006 The Tufts Climate Initiative becomes a department under Tufts Central Administration and is renamed the Tufts Office of Sustainability.

2006  Sustainability conference “Sustainability in the Balance: Juggling Environmental Health, Economic Profitability, and Social Equity in the Global Food System” held at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition.

2007  Tufts awarded “Excellence in Energy Efficiency” Award by National Grid. Tufts’ Building 20 Energy Conservation Project on the Grafton campus, won the “Best Energy Project in Higher Education” award from the New England Association of Energy Engineers.

2008 The Eco-Ambassador program for staff starts. Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) re-starts.

2009 Tufts named #9 on Sierra magazine’s list of Top Ten Greenest Schools.

2009 Tufts University Health Sciences Campus Green Initiative begins. Tisch Library Sustainability Team is formed. Single-stream recycling begins at the Dental School. Vegetable “box share” delivery to the Boston and Medford campuses begins.

2009 Undergraduate Student Mara Gittleman wins SustainUS undergraduate Citizen Scientist award for her research on Ethiopian Agriculture.

dental school clinic
Tufts Dental School earns LEED Silver for vertical expansion

2009 Tufts Dental School vertical expansion is complete and earns LEED Silver certification.

2009  Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine wins grant to look into wind power in Grafton.

2010 Tufts is recognized by the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships as a Business Leader for a five year body of energy conservation projects.

2010 Weekly on-campus farmer’s market opens on Medford campus.

2010 Tufts’ Flytzani-Stephanopoulos named first Haber professor of sustainable energy.

2010 Tufts dining goes “trayless” as a result of advocacy by students in the Ex-College’s Environmental Action Class.

2011  Tufts Bikes, a student-run free bike sharing program, is launched. The undergraduate environmental group ECO reorganizes to become the Tufts Sustainability Collective to focus on sustainability action on campus.

2011   Hodgdon Goes Green and eliminates the sale of single use disposable beverages and bags, in response to student activism.

2011 Tufts earns a Silver Rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

2012 President Tony Monaco establishes a university-wide Sustainability Council to look at the areas of water, waste and energy.

2012 Tufts Dental School Level 2 Renovation Project earns LEED Gold Certification.

2012 Tufts receives a Green Award from the City of Medford at the 2012 Harvest Your Energy Festival in recognition of its work implementing energy efficiency, water conservation and  resource use reduction efforts.
2012 Tufts is presented with the Silver Institution Recycling Award at MassRecycles’s 17th Annual Recycling Awards.